Less than two weeks after facing the Florida Panthers in the Sunshine State it was the Colorado Avalanche’s turn to host the rematch and final game in this series between two high scoring teams. Much like the first meeting this was a spirited back-and-forth affair which needed overtime to settle on a result. Unfortunately this did not go Colorado’s way as they blew a lead late and then gave the Panthers the overtime goal for a 4-3 loss.
This contest started off cautiously with the teams trading power plays and then eventually goals. Another hard working shift from the so-called fourth line resulted in a scramble in front of the net and subsequently Matt Nieto depositing the loose puck at just over six minutes into the first period.
Florida responded with a goal of their own at 9:59 on a perfectly executed tip play by Colton Sceviour off an Aaron Ekblad shot. The Avalanche were not satisfied to end the period in a tie and with just over 30 seconds left Joonas Donskoi deflected in a puck of his own.
The Avalanche took the momentum from that last minute goal and opened the second period with a large shot run but couldn’t get anything out of it and then Florida took control through the opening of the third frame. That is until Nikita Zadorov laid down the hammer on unsuspecting Jayce Hawryluk. This his was not penalized but Hawryluk went to the dressing room after subsequently hitting the boards.
There exists differing opinions on what impact physicality has on the game but less than a minute after that big hit from Zadorov the home team found the back of the net at 7:37. Nathan MacKinnon launched another shot from the blue line in very similar fashion to the earlier Donskoi goal but didn’t need a deflection to get past goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. It seemed a concerted strategy to move MacKinnon higher up in the offensive zone to take shots and that idea paid dividends this evening.
The game should have been over at this point with a 3-1 lead but the Avalanche could not lock down the final ten minutes. Zadorov received a penalty and misconduct on a retaliation scuffle and then Aleksander Barkov scored his first goal of the season at 12:04 on the ensuing power play. With 1:30 to go Jonathan Huberdeau converted with the extra attacker advantage and the game was tied headed into overtime. There Huberdeau struck again less than 30 seconds into the extra frame when MacKinnon and Donskoi got tangled up in the defensive zone. 4-3 Panthers final score and very frustrating to lose a game the Avalanche had a strong handle on.
With an assist and then goal in this game for good measure Nathan MacKinnon added to his historic point streak. As someone who hasn’t quite found his stride this season to keep producing speaks volumes to his talent and value on the ice.
It was always going to be an adjustment and work in progress playing without both Mikko Rantanen and now Gabe Landeskog for the foreseeable future but the line chemistry certainly looked off for MacKinnon, Donskoi and Nazem Kadri. They each had nice individual moments but as a line it will take some time. Head coach Jared Bednar clearly trusts his veteran line with Nieto, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Matt Calvert who all play off each other very well but they were on the ice for the tying goal and Bednar has to resist overplaying them.
In Vladislav Kamenev’s first game of the season he played just under ten total minutes but was used in some key situations later in the game. Kamenev and fellow countryman Valeri Nichushkin found some quick chemistry however which resulted in multiple breakaways but no goals yet. It was a positive debut for the young Russian forward. Another lineup change was Mark Barberio drew at the last minute for Ryan Graves with no reason given. It was an uneven performance for him but Barberio did shake some rust off as the game went on.
The home stand concludes on Friday, November 1st against Dallas at 7pm MT.